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Excite goes shopping for iMall

Deal worth $425 million brings Excite's customers to threshold of eshops

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Excite@Home, the portal operator, is laying the foundations of an online shopping centre, and is sending a warning to competitors like Yahoo and AOL. It has agreed to acquire iMall, the e-commerce software specialist, in a deal worth around $425 million. It has also established an agreement with payment processor, First Data. By combining resources from the two deals, Excite's president, George Bell, reckons that his company will be able to offer clients a working online shopfront inside 24 hours. Businesses will have access through their shops to Excite's 22 million subscribers. The clients will be provided in part by First Data's database. Having acquired an 11 per cent stake in iMall in November last year, First Data set about putting its two million clients online at a rate of about 4000-5000 a month. The deal with Excite will serve to accelerate that process. The deal will bring more traditional retailers online rather than increasing the number of online only enterprises. Excite and iMall are exchanging shares at nearly two iMall shares for one Excite share. ®

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